Former Spanish soccer federation chief Rubiales will stand trial on charges of sexual assault and coercion for his unsolicited kiss of Jenni Hermoso after last year's Women’s World Cup final, a judge confirmed this week.

Back in January, Judge Francisco de Jorge recommended that Rubiales be held accountable for his 2023 actions, calling the kiss "unconsented and carried out unilaterally and in a surprising fashion" and within the bounds of "intimacy of sexual relations." On Wednesday, Spain’s National Court ruled that Rubiales should indeed stand trial.

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Rubiales has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, saying the kiss was consensual. Hermoso, meanwhile, defined the incident, which occurred during the WWC medal ceremony, as "unexpected and at no time consensual."

Public prosecutors and lawyers for the Spanish Women's National Football Team star and Women's World Cup champion are seeking two and a half years of prison time for Rubiales: one year for sexual assault, and an additional 18 months for participating in coercion.

Rubiales is alleged to have pressured Hermoso into showing support for him following the kiss. Three other officials — including former women's national team head coach Jorge Vilda — are also facing coercion charges that could result in 18 months in prison. 

A trial date has yet to be set. Last October, FIFA banned Rubiales from all football activity for three years. The sentence will be in place through the 2026 Men’s World Cup, but will have expired by the time the 2027 Women's World Cup begins.

Spanish player Jenni Hermoso appeared in court on Tuesday to testify in the sexual assault case against former Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales.

Rubiales is named in a lawsuit brought by Spanish state prosecutors, alleging sexual assault and coercion after he kissed Hermoso on the lips without her consent following the 2023 World Cup final. They also say that he tried to convince Hermoso and her relatives to downplay the kiss publicly.

Hermoso’s testimony happened behind closed doors, with Spanish media saying that the forward asked that the appearance be kept as private as possible. She was expected to reiterate to the court that the kiss was unwanted and that both Rubiales and his staff tried to pressure both her and her family into downplaying the incident.

The judge is also hearing testimony from other World Cup-winning players, coaches and federation officials, before deciding whether to take the case to trial. Rubiales has previously denied wrongdoing to the judge, who issued a restraining order against him contacting Hermoso.

Rubiales’ actions at the World Cup – which also included him grabbing his crotch in celebration and “inappropriate” conduct toward England players – sparked international outrage. While he initially refused to resign as president of the RFEF, he later issued his resignation.

FIFA suspended Rubiales for three years, with a report in December showing that the soccer governing body considered more severe sanctions. The report went on to say that the disciplinary committee was satisfied with the three year ban, only with “strong hesitations.”

According to the prosecutors’ office in Madrid, a sexual consent law passed last year could see Rubiales face a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years if found guilty.

Former Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales has been banned from all activities related to the sport for three years, FIFA announced Monday.

The ban comes after Rubiales’ nonconsensual kiss of star midfielder Jenni Hermoso at the 2023 World Cup final. He also threw another Spanish player over his shoulder and was seen grabbing his crotch during Spain’s 1-0 win over England, and his behavior resulted in multiple investigations into his conduct.

While Rubiales initially refused calls to resign, he stepped down on Sept. 10, though he remained defiant in the face of the backlash against him. His decision to resign came after he received a provisional suspension from FIFA, the Spanish government attempted to have him removed and Hermoso filed a criminal complaint against him.

“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has banned Luis Rubiales, the former president of the Spanish Football Association (RFEF), from all football-related activities at national and international levels for three years, having found that he acted in breach of article 13 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code,” FIFA said in a statement Monday. “This case relates to the events that occurred during the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on 20 August 2023, for which Mr Rubiales had been provisionally suspended for an initial period of 90 days.

“Mr Rubiales has been notified of the terms of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee’s decision today. In accordance with the relevant provisions of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, he has ten days in which to request a motivated decision, which, if requested, would subsequently be published on The decision remains subject to a possible appeal before the FIFA Appeal Committee.

“FIFA reiterates its absolute commitment to respecting and protecting the integrity of all people and ensuring that the basic rules of decent conduct are upheld.”

While Rubiales has maintained his innocence, saying the kiss was consensual, Spanish prosecutors have charged him with sexual assault and coercion. They also say Rubiales attempted to put pressure on both Hermoso and her family to say that the kiss was consensual.

Hermoso has maintained that the kiss was not consensual, saying she felt “disrespected” and was left unprotected “as an employee of the federation.”

The 33-year-old midfielder returned to the national team last week for the first time since the World Cup final, scoring the game-winning goal in Spain’s 1-0 Nations League victory over Italy.

Almost all of the players called up to the Spanish women’s national team for its September training camp agreed Wednesday to end their strike after reaching an agreement with their national federation.

More than seven hours of meetings between the players and the Spanish football federation (RFEF) ended with the RFEF saying it would make “immediate and profound” structural changes. Those meetings ended around 5 a.m. local time in Spain.

Of the 23 players selected for the September roster, 21 of them had signed a statement last week demanding action from the federation before they would return to the team. But they still received national team call-ups, and if they refused, they could have faced fines of up to €30,000 and a ban of their federation license for up to 15 years, among other possible sanctions, though officials later said they would not have imposed any sanctions.

While most of the players agreed to play for the national team in the upcoming Nations League matches after the meetings with RFEF, two — Mapi León and Patri Guijarro — decided to leave training camp. Both players were part of “Las 15,” the group of players who refused to play for the national team starting last October and missed the 2023 World Cup.

“They are working on changes. It’s a different situation for us,” Guijarro said. “It’s tough, it’s difficult. Being here, after the way everything has happened, mentally we were not ready to stay. That’s the explanation.”

While the dispute between the players and their federation stretches back to before the World Cup, Spain’s World Cup win on Aug. 20 deepened the divide. Luis Rubiales resigned as RFEF president as a result of the backlash against his forced kiss of star player Jenni Hermoso at the World Cup final, and controversial head coach Jorge Vilda has been fired. Yet those changes “are not enough for the players to feel safe, where women are respected, where there is support for women’s football and where we can maximize our potential,” players said in a statement Friday.

Victor Francos, president of Spain’s national sports council, helped mediate the meetings.

“A joint commission will be created between RFEF, CSD and players to follow up on the agreements, which will be signed tomorrow,” Francos told reporters. “The players have expressed their concern about the need for profound changes in the RFEF, which has committed to making these changes immediately.”

Amanda Gutierrez, president of global players union FUTPRO, said that the meetings are a start of a “long road” for the players and the federation.

“The players see it as a rapprochement of positions. It is the beginning of a long road ahead of us,” Gutierrez told reporters. “Once again, they have shown themselves to be coherent and the vast majority have decided to stay for the sake of this agreement.”

One of the first measures taken is to remove “female” from the women’s national team’s official brand. From this point forward, both the men’s and women’s teams will be known as the “Spanish national football team.”

“Beyond it being a symbolic step, we want it to be a change of concept, and the recognition that football is football, no matter who plays it,” RFEF president Pedro Rocha said.

Spain is set to make its debut in the Nations League against Sweden on Friday, with another match set for Sept. 26 against Switzerland.

Jenni Hermoso, Alexia Putellas and the rest of the Spanish women’s national team will not play for their country until more changes are made within the Spanish football federation (RFEF).

Luis Rubiales resigned as RFEF president as a result of the backlash to his forced kiss of Hermoso at the 2023 World Cup final, and controversial head coach Jorge has been fired. But those changes “are not enough for the players to feel safe, where women are respected, where there is support for women’s football and where we can maximize our potential,” the players said in a statement.

The players are demanding the restructuring of the women’s football organization, the presidential cabinet and general secretary, the communications and marketing department and the ethics and integrity department.

Head coach Montse Tomé, who took over in the wake of Vilda’s firing, is set to announce her first squad Friday. The World Cup champions are set to play in Nations League games against Sweden and Switzerland on Sept. 22 and 26.

“The players of the Spanish team have, at all times, been open to dialogue, seeking to convey clear and well-argued reasons that we believe are necessary to be able to carry out our work at the highest level with the respect we deserve,” the players wrote. “The specified changes to the RFEF are based on zero tolerance for those people who, from a position within the RFEF, have had, incited, hidden or applauded attitudes that go against the dignity of women.”

Before Rubiales stepped down earlier this week, he had vowed not to resign in a meeting of the RFEF. Many in the audience at the meeting applauded Rubiales, though some have since apologized, saying that they felt pressured to do so.

At the time, players said they would not play for Spain again “if the present leadership continues.” They also asked for “real structural changes that help the national team continue to grow.” Though Vilda and Rubiales are out, the players want to see more systemic changes.

“We firmly believe that strong changes are required in leadership positions in the RFEF and specifically, in the area of women’s football,” the players wrote. “We want to end this statement by expressing that the players of the Spanish team are professionals, and what fills us most with pride is wearing the shirt of our national team and leading our country to the highest positions.

“We believe that it is time to fight to show that these situations and practices have no place in football or society, that the current structure needs changes and we do it so that the next generations can have equality in football and at the level that we all deserve.”

Alexia Putellas and the rest of the Spain women’s national team are aiming to inspire change beyond soccer as the fallout from their World Cup controversy continues.

Luis Rubiales resigned as president of the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) earlier this week as the result of mounting pressure from his behavior at the 2023 World Cup final. Following Spain’s 1-0 win over England, Rubiales kissed star midfielder Jenni Hermoso, a gesture which she has maintained came without her consent.

Hermoso’s teammates have stood with her in the wake of the incident, which created an international uproar and has led to multiple investigations into Rubiales.

So when FC Barcelona Femení became the first sports team to win the Medal of Honor from the Catalan parliament, Putellas used the platform to call attention to their fight for change.

“We are the first men’s or women’s team to be distinguished with this Medal of Honour — this would have been unthinkable five, 15, 20 years ago, but it has happened,” she said in her acceptance speech Wednesday. “This has not been achieved from scratch, so I would like to thank all those pioneers who, before our arrival, promoted women’s sport at Barca or in other organizations. This medal also belongs to them, we are very aware of that.”

Launched in 2000, previous winners include recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, former presidents and soccer manager Pep Guardiola, the only previous winner related to sport.

Barcelona received the award for their success as four-time Spanish league winners and two-time Champions League winners, but also because of the impact that they have had on sport in Catalonia. Twice, the team has filled Camp Nou and broken women’s attendance records.

“At Barca, we are helping to build a fairer, more equal society with more opportunities through football. Our efforts and our victories are making us a point of reference for many children, young people and adults,” Putellas said. “Our commitment to women’s sport and society is unquestionable, but we need more help to keep growing, so that this is not just a fad. And here, if I may, I would like to demand more support for women’s football, more and better facilities, more pitches and more investment at grassroots level.”

Noting that women in sports are “here to stay,” Putellas also noted a commitment to “help those that come after us.”

“There is still a long way to go, as we are seeing these days with the serious situation we are facing with the [RFEF] and the changes we are all asking for so that no woman, inside or outside football, ever has to live a situation of disrespect or abuse,” she said.

“We need consensus, courage and leadership from the institutions. We will not stop here. Those who fought before us deserve it, we deserve it for the effort we make every day and all the girls and boys who today dream of being like us deserve it. We will not fail you.”

Lindsey Horan is the lone U.S. women’s national team player to receive a nomination for the 2023 Best FIFA Women’s Player award.

The 29-year-old co-captain scored two goals for the USWNT at the 2023 World Cup, tied with the team’s lone Ballon d’Or nominee Sophia Smith. No other U.S. player scored a goal at the tournament in Australia and New Zealand. Horan also starts in midfield for French club Lyon in Division 1 Féminine.

Alexia Putellas, who won the 2021 and 2022 Best Player awards, is notably absent from the 2023 list after spending the last year recovering from an ACL tear. Beth Mead and Alex Morgan, the runners-up for the 2022 award, also failed to make the cut. Mead has been out since December 2022 with an ACL tear.

World Cup champion Spain counted four nominees, including Aitana Bonmati, who won the Golden Ball at the World Cup, as well as Jenni Hermoso, Mapi Leon and Salma Paralluelo.

England tied Spain with four nominees, with Rachel Daly leading the way. Alex Greenwood, Lauren James and Keira Walsh also are nominated.

Australia star Sam Kerr received a nod, and she is joined by two fellow Matildas in Caitlin Foord and Mary Fowler. Colombia’s Linda Caicedo, France’s Kadidiatou Diani, Sweden’s Amanda Illestedt and Japan’s Hinata Miyazawa, the World Cup Golden Boot winner, round out the nominees.

Nominees for the Best Coach award include England’s Sarina Wiegman, who won the award last year, Australia’s Tony Guastavsson and Sweden’s Peter Gerhardsson. Two club coaches also received nominations: Chelsea’s Emma Hayes and FC Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez.

England’s Mary Earps is once again nominated for Best Goalkeeper and is looking to win the award in back-to-back years. She’s joined by Mackenzie Arnold (Australia), Ann-Katrin Berger (Germany), Christiane Endler (Chile), Zecira Musovic (Sweden), Catalina Coll (Spain) and Sandra Paños (Spain).

Luis Rubiales has resigned from his position as Spanish football federation president amid the ongoing fallout over his nonconsensual kiss of star player Jenni Hermoso at the 2023 World Cup final.

Rubiales, 46, announced his resignation in a letter published Sunday on social media, following weeks of defiance in the face of increasing backlash from the global soccer community. The Spanish federation (RFEF) confirmed that Rubiales had stepped down as president of the RFEF and as vice president of UEFA.

“After the suspension by FIFA, in addition to the rest of the proceedings against me, it is clear that I will not be able to return to my position,” Rubialies wrote, referring to his 90-day provisional suspension by FIFA. He also faces a sexual assault lawsuit from Spanish prosecutors.

“My daughters, my family and the people who love me have suffered the effects of persecution excessively, as well as many falsehoods, but it is also true that in the street, the truth is prevailing more every day,” he continued. He also said the “powers that be” would prevent his return, essentially forcing him to step down.

Later on Sunday, he gave an interview on “Piers Morgan Uncensored,” in which he said his decision to resign came after speaking with his friends and family.

“They say to me, ‘Luis, now you have to focus on your dignity and to continue your life, because if not, probably, you are going to damage people you love,’” he said.

Rubiales kissed Hermoso on the lips without her consent in the celebration following Spain’s World Cup victory over England on Aug. 20. While he has said that the kiss was consensual, Hermoso has maintained her denial of that claim in multiple statements.

Last week, Hermoso formally accused Rubiales of sexual assault. Two days later, Spanish prosecutors filed a lawsuit against Rubiales, alleging sexual assault and coercion. Under a sexual consent law passed last year, Rubiales could face a fine or a prison sentence of up to four years if found guilty of sexual assault.

FIFA has suspended Rubiales for 90 days during its investigation, but the world soccer governing body is reportedly seeking a 15-year ban.

Spain prosecutors have filed a lawsuit against Luis Rubiales alleging sexual assault and coercion after he kissed forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent following the 2023 World Cup final.

The lawsuit against Rubiales, who also has been suspended as president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF), was announced Friday, two days after Hermoso formally accused Rubiales of sexual assault. Under a sexual consent law passed last year, Rubiales could face a fine or a prison sentence of up to four years if found guilty of sexual assault.

The new law eliminates the difference between “sexual harassment” and “sexual assault.” Any nonconsensual sexual act can be prosecuted.

Additionally, prosecutors are saying Rubiales may have committed an act of coercion when, according to Hermoso, he pressured her to speak in defense of him following criticism of his behavior.

While Rubiales has insisted that the kiss was consensual, Hermoso has maintained her denial of that claim in multiple statements issued by both her and her players’ union.

In addition to a possible criminal trial, Rubiales was suspended by FIFA for 90 days starting on Aug. 27 during an investigation into the incident. Additionally, the Spanish government could deem Rubiales unfit to hold the position of RFEF president for up to two years.

Sarina Wiegman won the 2022-23 UEFA Coach of the Year award Thursday. In her acceptance speech, the England head coach threw her support behind the Spanish women’s national team.

Spain defeated England, 1-0, to win the 2023 World Cup title. But controversy has overshadowed the victory, as Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales has come under fire for his nonconsensual kiss of star midfielder Jenni Hermoso during the championship celebration.

Wiegman called it “really special” to be voted UEFA Coach of the Year, particularly by her colleagues. She also won the award last year after leading England to its first-ever Euros title. In her speech, she thanked her team and everyone from the English Football Association that supported the Lionesses as they made their World Cup run.

“But it also feels a little different,” she said. “We all know the issues around the Spanish team.”

Since the World Cup, Rubiales has been suspended by FIFA, and regional leaders from the Spanish federation (RFEF) have called for his resignation. Spain’s World Cup players have refused to return to the national team without a change in leadership.

With Rubiales’ refusal to resign, the conflict has dragged on, pulling attention from the players’ accomplishments and highlighting the ways in which society – and women’s sports – still must improve.

“It really hurts me, as a coach, as a mother of two daughters, as a wife and as a human being,” Wiegman said. “It shows the game has grown so much, but there’s also still a long way to go in women’s football and in society. And I would like to dedicate this award to the Spanish team. The team that played in the World Cup such great football that everyone enjoys.

“This team deserves to be celebrated and deserves to be listened to. And I’m going to give them, again, a big applause.”

Spain’s Aitana Bonmatí, who won the Golden Ball award for the World Cup, took home the award as the 2022-23 UEFA Player of the Year. She won the World Cup with Spain and the Champions League title with FC Barcelona.